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Why Instagram envy can be a good thing

I have a great life - I have what I want and need - but thumbing through Instagram makes me feel terrible, like I've achieved nothing meaningful at all. Everyone's got a better dinner, a more beautiful home, and to drive it in they travel wherever they want seemingly at the drop of a hat. Why can't I have what they have? Why am I here in bed looking at other people's amazing lives until I fall asleep and wake up to another droll day?

I was feeling this intense "IG envy" the other night. I scroll and scroll and feel the resentment (directed to myself mostly) growing. I should work harder, I told myself. I should earn more money, make more friends. I felt lazy and worthless and worked myself up to a state of conscious misery. 


And then I realized how ridiculous it all is. This is not the first time. I've read articles and watched videos about how the things people post are just maybe 10% or less of their actual lives. I'm sure they have their own personal struggles that they will never tell anyone until they just can't deal with all the crap anymore. Maybe they implode. Maybe they explode. But you and I will never hear about it on Instagram.

I know all this, sure, but I still feel intense envy every once in a while. It's not new and I get over it after concluding how foolish it is. I did realize something new though - that IG envy is actually a good thing. 

How come, you ask? People think of envy as some sort of weakness, or even a sin if you're particularly religious. Self-helpers think envy is a slow death of one's self-esteem and confidence. But perhaps they're looking at it at the wrong way. Instead of asking, "why can't I have what they have?", envy should prompt you to ask, "Well, what do I actually have that I love?" Then, "Is there anything I can do to improve it and grow it?"

Comparing yourself to other people is a black hole that you'll never see the end of. There will always be someone better than you and I - it's just sheer statistics, nothing personal you know? But we still can't help it. Instead of letting your envy defeat you, allow it to open up your eyes to your own assets and to motivate you to expand them! 

Because, really, your life is never as un-sparkling as you think it is. Maybe you don't have a lot of money to travel, but you have good friends or family you can text to have coffee with anytime. Or maybe you feel lonely too often, but you have amazing books or a guitar to keep you happily alone. Maybe your house looks like a mess, but it's full of things you love. I don't know, man. It just seems to me that we under-value what we have and over-value what we don't.

Envy should give us perspective, not take it away. 

I realized all this and immediately felt grateful for the life I have. My job is amazing - it keeps me on my toes while giving me time to pursue other hobbies and I make a decent living besides. I have a great partner, who is weird but loves me more than anyone in the world (except his mother, of course. And our dog.). I have a great family who supports me in whatever I do, even if they might not understand why. 

All of these things are my sources of strength and happiness - the foundations that I build on everyday to be a better person in my own terms. Thank goodness it became clear to me after a nasty bout of Instagram envy.

The recipe for a beautiful Sunday: Watercolors and music

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